Alaska Gold Mining Industry Time Tested and Is Doing Very Well

Alaska Gold Mining

Alaska gold mining started with the Klondike gold rush of 1897 when 100,000 potential miners rushed from the California gold fields as well as parts of Western Canada to Alaska to pan for gold. The journey to the gold fields of Alaska was extremely difficult and casualties were high. Klondike gold rush facts describe that only 4000 miners actually found high gold reserves and about one-half of those miners became rich. To get to the gold fields in the Yukon, miners were required by Canadian government to have full year’s supply of food, and travel provisions needed to be strong enough to get through the harsh Yukon winters. Miners’ journals record that the average trip to the Yukon from San Francisco took over two years and the actual working in the Klondike gold fields was extremely difficult. The permafrost made digging difficult and very costly. Boom towns sprang up along the Dyea and Skagway rivers but were poorly constructed and subject to fires and disease epidemics. The natives of the Klondike, the Hans, were driven from their lands, housed on reserves and literally died out as a result of the Klondike gold rush.

Alaska gold mining in the Klondike essentially died out in 1899 when gold was discovered in Nome and miners rushed to the southwest area of the state. Heavy gold dredge equipment or equipment used to gather up the bottom sediment of shallow bodies of water was brought in to find gold reserves and the land began to be torn up. With the inclusion of dredge mining Klondike gold reserves increased and it is recorded that by 2005 over 1,250,000 pounds or 570,000 kg of gold has been mined in the Klondike area. This area continues to bring tourists to the region and the Klondike Gold Rush era has been highly romanticized in novels and movies.

Today, Alaska gold mining and the Alaskan mining industry in general is valued at over four billion dollars and placer gold mining accounts for 70,000 ounces of gold annually. Gold mining in Alaska includes placer, dredge and underground mines. As a note, what is placer gold can be defined as gold taken from stream and river beds both underground and above ground. To find placer gold in underground streams, mines have been dug in some of the richest areas of Alaska and Nome, Fairbanks, and Dawson Alaska enjoy the tax and revenue benefits of Alaska gold mining.